Administration

White House says it won’t criticize by name those spreading ‘replacement theory’

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday told reporters that she wouldn’t call out by name media commentators or elected officials who have helped spread the racist “replacement theory” because doing so would give them a platform. 

“The people who spread this filth, they know who they are and they should be ashamed of themselves, but I’m not going to give them or their noxious ideas they are pushing the attention that they desperately want,” Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday. 

“Every leader should condemn that hate and certainly not echo it. We’re going to focus on what unites us as Americans,” she said. 

“Replacement theory” is a conspiracy theory rooted in the baseless idea that Democrats are working to replace white Americans with minorities through immigration policies. It apparently motivated the 18-year-old white gunman who shot and killed 10 people in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo on Saturday, a mass shooting that is being investigated as a hate crime. 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson and some Republican lawmakers, including the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), have come under criticism following the mass shooting for echoing and amplifying tenets of the theory. 

Jean-Pierre’s explanation Tuesday came after she declined to call out Carlson or Republican elected officials for helping to elevate the theory during her first press briefing as press secretary on Monday afternoon. 

President Biden has decried the shooting and is expected to call it “terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology” during a speech in Buffalo later Tuesday, according to a White House official. 

Jean-Pierre didn’t go so far as to say that Biden would hold back from calling out people who contribute to the hateful rhetoric. 

“I’m not going to give them a platform,” she said. 

The White House’s decision not to name names comes as other Democrats have taken aim at their Republican colleagues over the issue. The criticism has also come from within the GOP. 

“Why does GOP Rep @EliseStefanik promote great replacement theory? I call again on Rep Stefanik to apologize for supporting the vile, anti-Semitic and racist great replacement theory,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted Tuesday morning.  

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a critic of former President Trump who was ousted from GOP leadership last year, also accused Republican leaders of enabling “white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism” in the wake of the shooting.  

And outgoing Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) accused Stefanik and others of pushing the replacement conspiracy theory.  

On his show Monday evening, Carlson criticized the Buffalo shooter and accused Biden, Democrats and the media of politicizing the shooting. 

“So what is hate speech? Well, it’s speech that our leaders hate,” he said. “So because a mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political views out loud. That’s what they’re telling you. That’s what they’ve wanted to tell you for a long time, but Saturday’s massacre gives them a pretext and a justification.”

House Republican leaders also dismissed the criticism as politically motivated and untrue. 

“Same thing Cheney always does, just trying to play a political game when she knows something’s not true,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Monday evening.

Stefanik’s senior adviser Alex DeGrasse said the congresswoman “has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement.” 

Tags buffalo shooting Elise Stefanik gun deaths gun violence Joe Biden Karine Jean-Pierre Liz Cheney Mass shooting replacement theory Tucker Carlson white replacement theory

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